[Vision2020] There is No Honor among Thugs

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 19 10:59:16 PST 2019

Paul Krugman, NY Times, 11/19/19

Maybe seven or eight years ago I had a memorable conversation with a former
Marine who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was honorably
discharged after being severely wounded by an I.E.D. (He made a full
recovery.) Like other military officers I’ve spoken with, he was thoughtful
and well-informed, almost a bit of an intellectual — very much someone I
could talk to, despite his having had experiences I can’t imagine.

But he was, he said, finding his post-military experience somewhat
unsatisfying, because “there’s no honor in civilian life.”

Strange to say, I felt that I understood him. I’ve had a wonderful
professional life, getting well paid to do work that I enjoy and even
amounts to a vocation. Yet I sometimes feel the hankering for something
more — a sense of serving a larger purpose, including being willing to make
big sacrifices if necessary. And I don’t think I’m alone in having those
feelings, or in having special admiration for those public servants, not
just in the military, who do live by an honor code.

But if you’re both powerful and corrupt, you don’t admire women and men who
serve with honor. On the contrary, you hate and fear them, because their
sense of duty may stand in the way of your schemes. And you especially hate
the admiration most of us feel for honorable public servants, which makes
it hard to brush them aside.
Continue reading the main story

This hatred of honor, I believe, is the link between two big Trump-related
stories of the past few days.

One story involved Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine whom
Trump fired. Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president, so this
firing wasn’t in itself illegal. What became clear over several days of
testimony, however, was that Trump wanted Yovanovitch gone precisely
because she insisted on doing her job and serving the nation rather than
Trump’s personal interests.

And the reason Trump tried to smear Yovanovitch even as she was testifying
was his fury at how she was coming across: as an official who tries to
serve with honor. One can only imagine his rage at the standing ovation she
received at the end.

The other honor-related story was Trump’s decision — against the wishes of
military leaders — to pardon
servicemen accused or convicted of war crimes.
Continue reading the main story

Why did he pardon them? When he first tweeted that he was reviewing their
cases, Trump declared
“We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they
kill.” But it’s precisely because soldiers have the terrible power and
responsibility to kill people in the nation’s service that they’re expected
to do everything they can to avoid killing indiscriminately. Honorable
behavior isn’t an annoying impediment to the use of force, it’s an
essential part of what makes our military more than a gang of thugs.

But Trump hates those who serve with honor, and prefers thugs.

That’s the thing about Trumpism. It’s not just an ideology I disagree with;
it’s not even merely a cult of personality that celebrates a leader nobody
should admire. At its core is a rejection of the values that we used to
think defined us as a nation. You might say that Trump is at war with
truth, justice, and the American way. And that is, terrifyingly, a war he
might win.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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